Immersing yourself in your marketplace is not just a way to find and prioritise opportunities. It is also the key to energizing your organization and keeping it focused.
Insist that everyone in the whole company gets regularly immersed in the market. There is no substitute for direct market access from the top to the bottom of your organization.
Unilever learned how critical this was when P&G ran advertisements displaying boxer shorts it said had been ripped to shread by Persil Power, a newly introduced version of Unilever's top UK detergent brand. P&G's claim resonated with customers. At a cost of hundred of millions of dollars, not to mention five per cent market share, Unilever withdrew Persil Power.
Distance and specialization carry hidden costs. Managers today work long hours at relentless pace. Do executives vice presidents at any car company actually shop around for their own cars? Do telecommunication executives have to wait on hold for tech support? In the name of efficiency, senior executives generally outsource most of what they regards as distractions to support staff. But the stuff of opportunity. They are sources of the frustrations consumer experience every day: the broadband connection that gets disconnected, the car dealer that keeps you waiting half an hour to get your car back after servicing, the beautifully packaged toy that breaks into pieces when a child unwraps it.